Proctor Named Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award Winner

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (May 3, 2006) – After 31 years as a teacher, Debra Ann Proctor is well aware of her strengths and her weaknesses. “I have the same strengths all excellent teachers possess,” she notes. “One weakness I have difficulty with is tolerating the student who is cruel and says mean things to others. When I hear these words, I have to control myself and think of the right thing to say to both students.

“In today’s world, cruelty and disrespect are tolerated on television and on the Internet, and students are led to believe this is acceptable,” she adds. “This is something I struggle with every day.”

Proctor’s self-proclaimed “weakness” – kindness and consideration for others – may well be what makes her one of Wyoming’s top teachers. Today she was among only 10 teachers statewide to earn a 2006 Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award. Steven F. Leer, Arch Coal chairman and chief executive officer, made the announcement during a presentation ceremony this afternoon at Johnson Junior High School. He was accompanied by Gov. and First Lady Dave and Nancy Freudenthal; Mary Kay Hill, director of administration for the Department of Education; Wyoming Education Association Executive Director Jean Hayek; and Arch Coal President and Chief Operating Officer John Eaves.

“Debra Ann Proctor shows her students that she can instill a love of learning by providing a caring environment,” says Leer. “She has a core belief that all students deserve a quality education and she is committed to continuous development of her students.”

Proctor teaches English, reading and yearbook production at Newcastle High School in Newcastle. “The most important thing I do for my students is to supply them with a safe, unbiased, trusting and very structured environment, where clear learning expectations are the top priority,” she notes. “I have always believed that if people know exactly what is expected, they will rise to expectations. My students know from beginning to end what I expect of them.

“I believe each student should have the opportunity to excel and to master a distinctive learning capacity,” Proctor adds. “Dignity and self-worth are two major traits that I instill in my students.”

Proctor earned her bachelor’s degree at Black Hills State College, Spearfish, S.D.; and a master’s degree at the University of Wyoming. She developed an English/reading course for Newcastle High School that helps special education students earn a certified English credit, while increasing their reading skill levels. As a professor at the Eastern Wyoming College Newcastle Outreach Branch for teacher education, Proctor teaches teachers. She also has helped prepare students for the College Entrance English Proficiency Exam. Proctor won the first-ever Wyoming State Teacher of the Year for Scholastic Journalism award in 1994, after being nominated by students, and the Newcastle yearbook has earned numerous awards under Proctor’s direction. The Wyoming Department of Education selected Proctor to serve in the teacher cadre of the Wyoming Body of Evidence Activities Consortium and the Proficiency Assessment of Wyoming students. She further supports her community through involvement in church and other education-related initiatives.

In addition to recognition, teacher achievement award recipients receive a $2,500 unrestricted, personal cash award, a distinctive trophy and a plaque. The Arch Coal teacher recognition program features public nomination and peer selection. Arch Coal is supported by the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Education Association, Taco John’s, Loaf ‘n Jug, and the Wyoming Library community in program promotion. This is the sixth year Arch Coal has made the awards in Wyoming.

Arch Coal is the nation’s second largest coal producer and employs approximately 900 people in Wyoming. Arch produces more than 90 million tons of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal annually at its Wyoming operations. The company’s Black Thunder operation in Campbell County is one of the nation’s largest and most efficient coal mines. Arch Coal is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACI) and maintains its corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.

Information about each of the recipients is posted on the Arch Coal Web site: